Adapted & directed by Christopher Marino
Reviewed by Juliet Moser
Mark R. Ross as Julio (Photo: David Polk)
Two twenty-first century minstrels open Taffety Punk’s production of a long-lost play, an acoustic guitar and electric bass strapped around their necks. Serenading the audience with an explanatory prologue, these musical characters perform the role of both Greek chorus and extras throughout a fresh production of Cardenio Found.
Taffety Punk’s version of this long-lost play bears the tag line: "Cervantes writes Don Quixote, Shakespeare writes a play based on it, for 395 years it is lost…Cardenio Found." Though the play’s authorship is disputed, it bears several hallmarks of a work by the Bard. Two pairs of lovers, cross-dressing, and lascivious tales of love and sex run through this quick, amusing romp.
Under the nimble direction of Christopher Marino, this "Cardenio" is a new tale. Working with scant props and simple costumes in the (nearly) black box of Woolly Mammoth’s Melton Rehearsal Hall (there is one fairly distracting wall of glass), Marino pieces together a tale of Henriquez (Scot McKenzie) and the ladies he loves. After giving into his base instincts with Violante (a measured Maia DeSanti), Henriquez soon loses interest and finds a new object of adoration in his best friend’s beloved, the feisty Leona, played with wit and spunk by Kimberly Gilbert. The shamed Violante runs away instead of facing the public shame of her lost virginity.
However, have no fear for the young maiden – though the tale be twisted, the end is happy, resplendent with a Shakespearean double marriage. The frothy confection bubbles along nicely, carried by the energetic ensemble and complimented by the use of music throughout the piece. The entire cast is only 10 actors and though Taffety Punk appears to be lacking in funds, costumer designer Melanie Lester puts together oddly nostalgic and vaguely Spanish-influenced costumes.
This new adaptation is a world premiere and Woolly Mammoth ought to be granted credit for partnering with Taffety Punk to bring this work to D.C. Catch this show – it closes this weekend. At $10 and just under 2 hours, Cardenio Found is just as long as a movie, cheaper, and far more interesting.
(Running time: 2:00 with intermission). Cardenio Found runs until April 22nd at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, 641 D Street NW, Washington, DC. Tickets $10. Thurs thru Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 6:30 pm. Purchase online